Petite Fit Guide: Improper Fit of a Juniors Top on a Petite Woman

Lots of petite women shop in the junior’s department, or stores geared toward teens. These items are usually cut smaller, so a lot of petite women who have a hard time finding items slim enough can find items cut for slim teenagers to fill their wardrobes.

While shopping in juniors departments can yield a lot of success for petite women, there are things to look out for and avoid. Teen styles tend to be super trendy and youthful, which is dangerous for petite women who don’t want to get lost in a group of junior high schoolers on the street. Teen styles also tend to be made cheaply, with short lives, since teenagers are fickle creatures who will get bored and throw away their clothes rather quickly.

Teen clothing is also cut for…teen bodies! Less curves, less bust, slim builds, and a more average height. Teen clothing can still be ill proportioned for petite women, so watch out.

That being said, teen stores have saved my wardrobe quite a few times. My very first professional button-up shirt was bought in the Brass Plum department at Nordstrom, and until I discovered my favorite Paige jeans, all my denim was juniors department finds.

Of course, then there are the mistakes…like this Abercrombie and Fitch tank that I bought two of! How embarrassing!

When I first found it, I liked the lace detail along the top of the bust and bottom hem, and thought it would be a nice feminine detail to have peak out from under a cardigan. I tried on a size XS, and it was cut super slim. Although the straps are non adjustable and a little long, I figured out that if I just pulled the back of the top lower (past my bra band) the straps generally stayed in place. Why did I ever think that was ok? I went back and found the same one in navy blue, bought both, and wore them maybe a total of 3 times before I was so annoyed with the fit that I stuffed them in a drawer, never to be worn again.

Besides the too long straps and my clever (not) idea to just yank the back down to keep them up, can you see what else is wrong with the fit of this tank? Answer after the jump.

If you guessed the bust detail placement is wrong…you’re right!

The main reason why this tank drives me nuts is the bust placement on the top is not cut for an adult woman.

This tank is designed for a younger girl, with a small, high bust. While my bust is not very large, it is larger and lower than the teenage girls it was designed for. When the bust seam sits in the right place, my bra shows, because the bust on the tank has been cut for a smaller bust. In order to cover my bra, I have to hike the top up, but that makes the seam rest on top of my bra. This results in the top constantly slipping back down to sit in it’s proper place…and constantly showing my bra!

This tank is a constant tug of war, and downright annoying to wear…so now they both sit in my “give to charity” bag. What a waste of money huh? Beware of the juniors department ladies! It’s not necessarily your friend.

Side note: my 5’7″ friend was guilty of the same offense! She marveled one day about the strange detail on her tank top that had a seam running straight across the bust. When I asked her where the tank was from….you guessed it….a teen store. She was surprised to hear the tank wasn’t designed to look that way…it just wasn’t designed for her…an adult woman! Petites are not the only ones who do this!

Join the Conversation


  1. says: PetiteAsianGirl

    Lol – I am rather curve-less and built like a teen, so my A&F tanks tend to fit : ) I can see what you mean though…women with more "real" bodies should beware of cuts in the juniors dept. When shopping for jeans, that is the biggest problem with kids jeans … most kids jeans leave NO room for a butt. Rock & Republic kids, especially, because their denim has less stretch. Guess I'll stick to my A&F kids …

  2. says: Jen

    Haha! PAG hit it right on the nail, I was going to say the same thing. I am built like a flat-chested teen so A&F fits me well. I also buy the A&F kids jeans because for some reason the cut of some is more like a young adult jean (although I still have to try each pair on since different cuts vary.)

    Feel free to ship those tanks my way! ;) I do try to avoid most junior's departments since the quality is so bad though. And I only got lucky once finding 7FAMK kids' jeans at Nordstrom that was clearanced because no little girl had been able to fit the slim legs of the size 10!

  3. says: Alterations Needed

    PAG & Jen – LOL…I'm actually surprised you girls say you're built like teens! You both have such cute figures in your outfit posts! Maybe I'm bustier than I thought…lol.

    Kid's jeans have never worked for me b/c I'm a bit endowed in the rear, and kid's denim is always cut too straight for me.

  4. says: diaryofashopper

    Ha. I have had those same bustline issues with A&F and other juniors clothes in the past.

    But A&F did save me once- last year we were going to go on a ski trip, and I had the nightmare project of finding XXS ski clothes. A&F has super warm XXS down jackets!

  5. says: Lisa

    AN, you totally nailed. I have similar tanks from Aero. They all do the samn thing. And I HATE wearing them for that reason. Plus they are so long. What's the deal with that?

  6. says: FeldmanTheCat

    Diaryofashopper: I too have kids ski clothes (jacket and pants from LL Bean and Helly Hansen), as well as kids thermal underwear, and kids workout stuff (Nike girls medium for running shorts, yoga wear and occasionally sports bras).

    I am flat chested as well, but being even older than you guys I can attest that they do start to drop with age, so the juniors stuff doesn't work for me unless I am wearing a super-underwire push up bra.

    I have to admit that I am surprised that teens clothes are designed for the "small high bust", because in my former life I taught high school and those girls were certainly not tiny and their busts were not what I would call "small". The girls I had in class were spilling out of their tank tops and over the tops of their low rise jeans.

  7. says: Alterations Needed

    Lisa – The tops are too long b/c they're made for average heighted teenagers. Even though teenagers are shorter than their future adult heights, if you're about 5', you're still very short, even for a teenager. These clothes are made for taller bodies.

    Feldman & Shopper – I have kid's snow gear too! My snow jacket is a child's size, but the sleeves are a smidge too small, so snow creeps up my wrists all the time.

    I think the "small high bust" can depend on the brand. A&F has this thin, waif, all American look they try to perpetuate, so they are definitely cut for the small busted, thin teenager type.

  8. says: Hi, I'm Ely.

    ohh i definitely noticed the tighter fit and longer sleeves at A&F. when i used to shop there, i would always get the XS so that the sleeves didn't drown me. but i always felt like i was going to burst the bust area, cus i am not as flat as A&F's target consumer…needless to say, I've stopped shopping there.

  9. says: Ms. Shopportunity

    OMG! I have ALWAYS had this problem with several of my tank tops, but it never once dawned on me why. Your explanation just gave me a huge AHA moment! You're exactly right!!!!! My bra is always showing when I wear several of my tanks! I just thought I had an odd-shaped body, but now I realize it is just another plight of petites everywhere! Great post, AN!!!

  10. says: Wendy

    Most junior stuff works for me because I'm well… eighteen. I'm really flat though, so I do notice that some tops don't fit me in that regard, and anything padded or with a structured bust looks ridiculous. Another reason why the tanks in the juniors department may be longer: We like to wear leggings as pants, and a longer tank allows us to hide our butt while doing so. :)

    Finding shorts or pants tend to be difficult for me though… The teen stuff is usually too large, but the kids stuff doesn't leave enough room for my butt and hips, and are usually cut higher than I'd like. The only place I've found jeans at successfully is Abercrombie Kids, but I can't justify the price on the jeans sometimes… I have two pairs from the regular Abercrombie, and they both shrunk a lot in the wash. :(

  11. says: PetiteXXS

    I'm built kinda flat and wide on both top and bottom, so I actually have the opposite problems with jeans… they tend to flatten me out, and there's no push-up undergarments for the bottom! :)

    @ PAG & Jen: I also buy my jeans from A&F kids. And I agree with Jen that you have to try on different pairs because the same sizes are cut differently for some reason. It's a little annoying though because I'm in between sizes. The 12 Slim is slightly too short (for heels) and the 14 Slim is slightly too long.

  12. says: Jackie

    I am guilty of shopping in the juniors department…I usually just get my basic casual clothes there though. Anything with detail and I look for women's clothing instead. Thanks for the article. I have noticed that when I get tanks in particular from the teen department they fit weird. It weird that average size women do it too lol

  13. says: PetiteAsianGirl

    @PetiteXXS – 12 SLIM? oh boy … I no longer feel "extra petite" lol! You and Jen really are itty bitty so I cannot imagine how yall find work clothing.

    Btw, I went to A&F adults last weekend and was horrified at how "skanky" some of the stuff has become. They had some chiffony super micro mini dresses in XS that I've featured before in posts…I could not zip them up and they barely covered my crotch.

  14. says: PetiteXXS

    @PAG: I only fit into the SLIM sizes because I have no butt lol… I'd rather be curvy and well-proportioned like you and AN.

  15. says: Twenty Two Flamboyant Street

    Ah! Yes, Ive made this mistake myself actually. I also find the upper arms of long sleeve tops are just a little too fitting.

  16. says: KathleenShimp

    I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who has tried to get tank tops to fit by pulling the back down low!
    I must be really weird, though, because I tend to find petite tops are tighter in the bust on me than junior tops are. My bust is unusually high, so maybe that's why? Maybe my bust is located more where the juniors' is? But I'm not even close to flat, so I still wonder how it makes any sense.

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